Engineering & Mining Journal

SEP 2018

Engineering and Mining Journal - Whether the market is copper, gold, nickel, iron ore, lead/zinc, PGM, diamonds or other commodities, E&MJ takes the lead in projecting trends, following development and reporting on the most efficient operating pr

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Page 58 of 75

SEPTEMBER 2018 • E&MJ 57 OPERATING STRATEGIES posed to high-voltage hazards, they can remotely troubleshoot alarms and events, and take corrective action, from a remote computer or mobile device. An intelligent packaged power system with remote monitoring can also help mining companies transform their opera- tions in a digital mine. Correlated process and power information can be monitored across several sites at a corporate level or in a centralized remote operations center. Make Energy a Manageable Expense Energy no longer has to be an unmanage- able cost of doing business in the mines. Instead, it can be a manageable expense. An integrated packaged power system can help one simplify their power-distri- bution systems, give better insights into how energy is being used in their oper- ations, and ultimately help them make smarter energy and control decisions. Paul McRoberts is regional manager, Mining Industry, at Rockwell Automation. Blockchain Forges Links to the Mining Industry Blockchain, the cryptocurrency-spawned technology that accompanies almost ev- ery mention of Bitcoin, is not new. It's been around for almost 10 years, but lately it seems to be everywhere, and that now includes the mining industry. Two recent announcements provide examples of how the concept is currently being ap- plied within the industry to establish and maintain provenance throughout the sup- ply chain of so-called confl ict metals, in this case, cobalt and gold. What exactly is "blockchain?" It's an electronic-ledger technology that appears simple in nature at fi rst glance, but be- comes more diffi cult to understand the closer one looks at it, according to a num- ber of experts. A brief description from IBM might be a good place to begin: "…as each transaction occurs — and the parties agree to its details — it's encoded into a block of digital data and uniquely signed or identifi ed. Each block is connected to the one before and after it, creating an irreversible, immutable chain. Blocks are chained together, preventing any block from being altered or a block being insert- ed between two existing blocks." How can it benefi t the mining indus- try? A recent report from global consult- ing fi rm Accenture lists several possibili- ties, including: • Blockchain could be used to simplify cross-border payments and regulatory compliance by reducing the industry's reliance on centralized payment sys- tems operated by banks. Removing inter- mediaries from the process could speed up transactions and increase transpar- ency across the supply chain, while re- ducing exposure of data to hackers. The technology could also help with tracking high-value minerals and metals as they move from mine site to end buyer. • Miners could use blockchain to host "smart contracts" — legal agreements and sets of business rules that execute contracts automatically across multiple jurisdictions. By automating the pro- cess, such smart contracts could also help reduce license-to-operate risks in developing countries. • Miners could use blockchain to more effi ciently process the rapidly growing amounts of data being generated by connected devices. New systems now under development could, for example, enable autonomous vehicles to reorder

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